Lotus Foods was kind enough to send me some complimentary samples of their exotic rices. I received the Forbidden, Madagascar Pink, Bhutanese Red, Organic Jade Pearl, Volcano and Mekong Flour Rices. Here is the mission statement from Lotus Foods:
Since 1995, we have pioneered the introduction of exotic rice handcrafted on small family farms in remote areas of the world such as Bhutan, Bangladesh, and China, into the US market. Each rice varietal is distinguished by its terroir* and treasured for its distinctive cooking quality, taste, texture, aroma, color, and nutritional value.
We founded Lotus Foods with the intent and vision to support sustainable global agriculture by promoting production of traditional heirloom rice varieties, many of which may otherwise have become extinct, while enabling the small family rice farmer to earn an honorable living. We are the only US-based company with the unique vision and commitment to seek out small family rice farmers in developing countries and provide them a means of economic support through access to a global and sustainable marketplace economy.
A small company with a big mission, we have become a leader in the specialty rice category, and perhaps what is most important to us is that we have made a big difference in the quality of life of our family farm suppliers. We offer you a rare collection of rice that is the high value alternative to commodity and other standard rice currently available from domestic growers and other importers.
*Terroir (/te-rwär/ in French) was originally a French term in wine and coffee appreciation used to denote the special characteristics of geography that bestowed individuality upon the food product. It can be very loosely translated as “a sense of place” which is embodied in certain qualities, and the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the manufacture of the product.
Rice has really become a staple in my diet since going gluten-free. Rice is easy to find in stores and doesn’t require a lot of skill to cook, as long you don’t lift the lid while cooking it. I ventured out of my “white rice” rut shortly after I started the gluten-free diet. I bought some basmati and jasmine rices at Trader Joe’s and they quickly became favorites. I really enjoyed the flavors and additional nutritional value of brown rice over white. It does take a little longer to cook, but with a little pre-planning, it is doable.
Lotus Foods does not grow their rice the same way that rice is traditionally grown. Rice is typically grown covered by water. Flooding the paddies is done to suppress weeds. Farmers who follow SRI (System of Rice Intensification) principles do not flood their fields. They alternate the drying & wetting of the paddies. SRI requires less seed, water, chemicals, cost, land & labor. SRI leads to more food, water, income, savings, health, community empowerment, biomass and biodiversity. To read more about SRI, click here.
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed sampling all of the different varieties of rice that Lotus Foods sent me. I paired them with seafood, Mexican, grilled chicken, stir-fries, and I think one of my favorites – a bowl of roasted veggies, chickpeas & feta cheese. There really are endless possibilities when using rice in cooking.
Lotus Foods rice can be purchased online here or in some local health food stores, grocery stores or co-ops.
There is a great looking recipe on the Lotus Foods site that uses the Forbidden Rice:
Forbidden Rice Salad
By Chef Kevin Chin, Bridges Restaurant
2 cups uncooked Organic Forbidden Rice®
3 1/2 cups water
2 oz. Indonesian soy sauce (please make sure the soy sauce you use is gluten-free)
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch Thai basil
1 bunch cilantro
1/4 bunch mint
1/2 cup toasted peanuts
1/4 cup fine chopped shallots (sauteed until brown)
1/8 cup fine chopped garlic (sauteed with shallots)
3 serrano chili peppers
1 oz. sesame oil
4 oz. peanut oil
1 oz. sugar
Click here for directions on how to assemble the above ingredients.
Thank you, Lotus Foods, for sending us these amazing samples!